A Textile Grown From Bacteria And Funghi

The idea sounds strange and intriguing to most people but it is not as innovative and new as one might think. In fact there are many projects and companies in different fields of design, science and engineering already using this or similar techniques to produce materials. In this first entry I want to briefly introduce some companies and projects that were relevant to my own research and growth of interest in the technique of biofabrication.

I first heard about the possibility of growing a textile from a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast in the fashion documentary The Next Black where they showed a research project of the designer Suzanne Lee. She used the waste product from making Kombucha Tea, which is a layer of cellulose, to create a textile for manufacturing clothes.

Suzanne Lee is now Creative Director of Modern Meadow, a team of designers, scientists and engineers working on creating lab-grown animal materials such as leather. She is also the founder of Biofabricate which is an annual event where developers from different fields of lab-grown materials come together to exchange ideas and knowledge and to network.

Bolt Threads is a company also working on creating lab-grown animal material with a focus on reproducing spider silk. They collaborated with Stella McCartney to create the first Microsilk collection.

In Copenhagen the designer Little Pink Maker and the Biologigaragen are experimenting in a very hands-on and collaborative way with lab-grown materials and their different possible usages. They also work on dyeing textiles with the help of bacteria cultures.

I was so intrigued by the idea of wearing a lab-grown material and the possibilities that come with this method of (textile) production that I decided to try and also grow fabric for my exam using this technique. I found detailed instructions of how to grow a textile from Kombucha culture and tea here.

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